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U.S. Coast Guard Ends Search For Passenger Who Went Overboard From Cruise Ship

8 comments

The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday night ended its search for a woman who went overboard from the Royal Caribbean mega-ship the Allure of the Seas on Sunday night. The passenger, who was only identified as a 21 year old from Tennessee, was seen going overboard by another passenger at 9:25 p.m. Sunday. This was confirmed when video footage from the ship's security cameras was reviewed. The location was approximately 50 miles off Fort Lauderdale, Florida while the vessel was enroute to Nassau in the Bahamas.

A Royal Caribbean news release said that when the witness reported the passenger overboard, the Captain "immediately stopped the ship" and turned it around. Two other cruise ships helped the Allure in an unsuccessful search until a Coast Guard fast response Cutter stationed in Miami arrived on scene at 3:30 a.m. and took charge of the search. On Monday and Tuesday the Coast Guard searched over 2,300 square miles but did not find anything.

One of the more disturbing facts in this tragedy is that the Coast Guard was not notified of the passenger going overboard until 11;30 p.m. on Sunday night about 2 hours after it was reported. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said the process of making sure a passenger is not onboard takes some time and verification is necessary before notifying the Coast Guard. That may be true in the case of a "missing' passenger, but in this case another passenger saw her go over the side and it was verified by video footage. We will never know whether the two hour delay in notification made any difference in this case, but common sense indicates that in circumstances such as here the Coast Guard should have been notified immediately.

The FBI said it will investigate what caused the 21 year old woman to fall off the cruise ship. Hopefully they will also address the delay in notification.

8 Comments

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  1. Eric says:
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    “common sense” indicates that there is a protocol in place and that is how things should be done. Even if the coast guard was notified immediately they too have a protocol and would not have been mobilized immediately.

    The “journalist” who wrote this article should understand, or researched, how the process works.

  2. Gerry McGill says:
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    Eric, I am a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and I spent 9 years on active duty. In the late 1960’s I was the Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Cape Fox stationed in West Palm Beach, Florida, about 50 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale. One of our primary missions was search and rescue operations in the same area between the Florida east coast and the Bahamas. As soon as we got a call we would get underway. I know that’s a long time ago, but I am sure the Coast Guard has not changed its attitude toward attempting to save lives.The point I was making was that a two hour delay in being notified meant a two hour delay on being on scene. There is no way to know for sure if the two hours would have made any difference in this case but I would rather get underway even if we got re-called than to wait while a known overboard person was positively identified.

  3. John says:
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    Eric, even if it was a false alarm, why would they NOT go out immediately? Fire trucks, police cars, ambulances all go when called. The fact that the Norwegian would not trust the passenger and get all possible help when notified is what disturbs me.

  4. Heather Davis-Freymuth says:
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    I was on this cruise and we just returned to Ft. Lauderdale today. They were paging constantly for a woman (I don’t recall her name) on deck 11 from a little after 9PM onwards. Actually, at 11:10PM I called guest services to ask them how to turn down the announcements in my cabin since they were even paging in the passanger cabins.

    We heard the Oscar, Oscar, Oscar anouncement in the hall shortly after I called Guest Services. We knew that was the code for man overboard and upon checking the ships GPS noticed that we had already turned around.

    The next morning, we saw one of the top officers in on the elevations. We had been hearing rumors all morning but we asked him two questions:

    1) Was it a 21-year old woman? He replied yes.
    2) Did she fall or jump? He replied that the tapes confirmed that she jumped.

    Anyway, the ship was very responsive and even contacted a couple of other ships nearby to help search. We missed our port of call the next day because of it.

    From what we heard onboard, when a case like this happens they have to search the ship for the person and review video tapes to see if they can spot the person. They obviously did this while they turned the ship around. If it is true that they waited to contact the coast guard for a while, it wasn’t because Royal Caribbean was being unresponsive – it was probably because they were trying to confirm what happened.

    It is a truly sad event but let’s not blame Royal Caribbean for this one.

    Heather
    Austin, TX

  5. John K Briscoe says:
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    Heather, Thanks for the update and your perspective. However, I must wonder, given the same circumstances ,if they would still refuse to contact the coast guard immediately when a witness indicates that someone fell overboard.

  6. Gerry McGill says:
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    Heather, I was not trying to blame Royal Caribbean for this tragedy. Apparently soon after the witness reported a person overboard they turned the ship around and notified two other cruise liners in the area who helped in the search. My question was, and still is, why did they wait over two hours to notify the Coast Guard? Thanks for the information from someone aboard the vessel.

  7. mackey says:
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    Thats was my friend and nobody tellin us anything if u were on the cruise please tell me wat happen her name was brianna

  8. nadine says:
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    Surely if reported person overboard action should have been taken immediately 2 hrs wasted makes me wary of sailing with rcl again did they break the maritime law